Galaxy preparing as usual despite previously undetermined opponent

LA to play in New York on Sunday

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Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – It wasn’t exactly business as usual as the LA Galaxy returned to training on Wednesday, but it was close.

Robbie Keane participated in his first full training session since straining his adductor earlier this month and appears to be close to returning to full speed. Landon Donovan, battling his own leg muscle injury, also worked out with no problems and should be good to go for the first leg of their Western Conference Semifinal Series on Sunday.

The only problem was the Galaxy did not know where that game would be.

However, the Galaxy’s Chris Birchall said players aren’t really concerned about their next destination.

“I don’t think we have a preference who we play,” he said. “To be honest with you, we don’t mind who we play.

“We just know if we play well in both games we’ll get through. For us, it’s really we know at some point in every round we’re going to be at home.”

Said Sean Franklin, “All we know is we’ve got a game Sunday that we have to prepare for. Yeah, it makes a difference as to how far we’re traveling, but other than that we’re just getting ready for our first game away.”

Head coach Bruce Arena, who missed Tuesday’s workout because he was ill, said he was going to take “mental notes” while watching Wednesday’s New York-FC Dallas game. He also agreed it didn’t matter who his next opponent was going to be.

“My opinion is whoever you draw you’re going to have to play well,” he said. “We know in this league the margin is not that great from top to bottom. They’ll all be competitive games and you have to be prepared to play your best.”

He also said he expected no surprises no matter who the Galaxy winds up playing.

“We’ve all been around the league a couple times this year,” he said.

“We know each other inside out, there’s not anything new. Each team is a little different in their qualities, but each of them are equally challenging. And obviously the first game away we have to play at our best and position ourselves to be in a good spot for Game Two.”

Arena then was asked if the Galaxy had any extra resolve from playoff setbacks in 2009 (losing to Real Salt Lake in MLS Cup) and 2010 (losing to FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship).

Arena, as feisty as ever, said those disappointments are nothing but footnotes in MLS history books.

“This is a whole new year,” he said. “If you look through your records we probably won the most games in the playoffs the last two years. It’s not like these are bad memories. We fell short, but we do know how to be ready for playoff games.

“I don’t think there’s anything … if they had to have a whole new genetic makeup for this challenge, then we’ve had it wrong the whole year. You go about your business the same way you have previously.”